Old Dartmouth Historical Sketch No. 1 - New Bedford Whaling Museum


Number 1

Being the proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, Water Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, on June 30, 1908.

by Annie Russell Wall

by Elizabeth Watson

by Walton Ricketson

[For Proceedings at the dedication of the Gosnold Memorial Sept. 1, 1903, see Old Dartmouth Historical Sketch Number 3]

[Note.–The "Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches" will be published by the society from time to time and may be purchased for a nominal sum on application to the Secretary.]

Proceedings of the First General Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
New Bedford, Massachusetts
June 30, 1903

The Old Dartmouth Historical Society, only a little over a month old, held its first general meeting for historical discussion in Grace House, on Tuesday evening, June 30, 1903. It had been the intention to hold the meeting in the parlors of the house, but the members gathered in such throngs that adjournment to the main hall was necessary, and even that was comfortably filled. The society numbered at this time 380 members.

President William W. Crapo presided. As he called the meeting to order he expressed himself as gratified at the large attendance, and more gratified by the thought that the society had begun its work as an active organization. Mr. Crapo said that no effort should be spared to preserve the story of the past, describe its events and incidents or keep alive the memories of the men and women who contributed to the advancement of the community. He said that it must be admitted that New Bedford and the towns of Old Dartmouth have been backward in this matter, and he thought it would be difficult to find in New England a community of equal prominence that has not made provision for preserving its early history, and for the safe keeping and exhibition of portraits, pictures, maps and relics illustrating the customs and conditions of earlier days. Neglect on our part and that of out predecessors has entailed a loss of much valuable historical treasure. That can be remedied now only through the zeal and earnestness of those engaged in this society. The failure is more to be regretted, as Old Dartmouth was peculiarly rich in material with which to endow such a society. Its men have ventured into remote seas, visited strange lands, and from far-off seas have brought rare curios. Besides this, there have been the tales of adventure and daring, appalling dangers and marvelous escapes. The details have in a measure vanished, because they have come to us only as imperfect traditions.

"The coming generations," Mr. Crapo said, "are entitled to this knowledge, and it rests upon us to furnish it. Not only what we have received, but that of succeeding years. Let us leave to those who are to follow us pleasant memories of the generations who have preceded us. We have entered upon this work in a spirit of confidence. All that is needed is earnestness, enthusiasm and co-operation of the members of this society. These being secured, successful results are certain."

The secretary of the society, Ellis L. Howland, reported on the work accomplished by the directors. A petition for a charter has been forwarded to the secretary of state, and a corporation will soon be formed. It has been decided to extend till August 1st the opportunity for any one desiring to become a charter member to do so. Mr. Howland stated that the society numbered at the opening of the evening 368 members, 13 of them life members. The summer meetings of the society are to be outdoor meetings, and the next one will probably be held in Dartmouth. For the directors, Mr. Howland reported that Cortez Allen of Westport had resigned as a director and the directors had nominated Edward L. Macomber of the same town in his place. The nomination was confirmed.

George H. Tripp reported that the directors had discussed the matter of suitable temporary headquarters for the museum, and called on Abbot P. Smith as the member of the museum committee to explain the subject.

Mr. Smith said that the best room the committee had found was in the old Masonic building, over Ruggles & Ellison's store. The room, which was formerly occupied by Briggs & Lawrence, is 40 by 76 feet, centrally located, and well lighted. The rent is $500 a year.

Mr. Tripp stated that though the rent looked high, the location was an advantageous one, and the board had a project in view by which he thought the rent could be wiped out. He suggested holding a fine loan exhibition of antiquities, particularly those pertaining to the whaling industry. Such an exhibition, held in the early fall, would, he thought, attract great attention. Mr. Tripp believed that a profit equivalent to a year's rent could be realized in an exhibition continuing two weeks.

Mr. Tripp also reported that the chairman of the various sections of the society had been chosen, as follows, and they will later organize their several sections:

Historical Research – Henry B. Worth.

Museum – Abbot P. Smith.

Educational – William E. Sargent.

Publication – Walter H. B. Remington

Business disposed of, the general topic of the evening, "Bartholomew Gosnold and Cuttyhunk: Their Place in the Pioneer History of Old Dartmouth," was taken up. The various papers were read as follows:

Gosnold and His Colony at Cuttyhunk
By Annie R. Wall

"How happy was he born and taught," the adventurous soul whose lines were cast in England in "the spacious time of great Elizabeth"; such an one was Bartholomew Gosnold, born in the west of England, where he must have listened to many a tale of the bronzed mariners who thronged the seaports; men who had dared the Arctic cold with Frobisher, or African suns with Hawkins, or under Francis Drake had carried the banner of England around the world, and returned laden with treasure from ships and towns on the Spanish Main, together with many a wonderful thing from foreign shores for men to marvel over. "Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits," wrote Shakespeare, and his countrymen seem to have taken the saying to heart. If Gosnold were not old enough to have taken part in the struggle, he would certainly have often listened to the story of how the little English ships, with their dauntless crews, had flown out from every harbor when the beacon-fires were calling all England to arms, and had sent the invincible Armada to disgrace and ruin. The air was full of adventure, and foremost among those who shared in the love of brave deeds was the gallant and accomplished Sir Walter Raleigh, under whose patronage was fitted out an expedition for exploration and colonization on the coast of North America. This expedition consisted of a single ship, the Concord, built and owned in Dartmouth, and was place under the command of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, with Bartholomew Guilbert as second officer and a crew of 32 men in all, of whom two, Gilbert Archer and John Brereton, gentlemen, were to be the historians of the undertaking. The Concord sailed from Falmouth, March we, 1602, in the 42nd year of Queen Elizabeth, and on April 23rd was 200 leagues west of the Azores, her last port, in yellow water, and on May 7th was surrounded by flocks of sea-birds, known and unknown.

The next day the sailors found themselves in greenish-yellow water, where the lead finally struck bottom at 22 fathoms, coming up with glittering stones sticking to it. They passed masses of sea-oase, a coarse, hemp-like sea-weed, floating northeasterly, bound, perhaps, for Southampton, where, on account of its close intertwining, it was used for an embankment at the mouth of the river: and ere long they found themselves on the edge of that vast extent of floating sea-weeds, full of strange wreckage of the ocean, which we call the Sargasso Sea: bits of wood were entangled therein, and to the wanderers these seemed to bring the scents of shore, as if in the fragrant groves of Andalusia.

Their fist landfall was on May 14th, and many savages came out to meet them, in what Mr. Archer calls a Biscay shallop; though not, as was at first supposed, "distressed Christians," they used many Christian words, not specified, and wore some articles of Christian clothing, notably, the chief's waistcoat and trousers and hat with a band. One of them drew an outline of the coast with a bit of chalk for the Englishmen's guidance, and they appeared to understand better than they could be understood. Doubtless they had had intercourse with some fishermen on the Banks.

On the 18th of May Gosnold sighted a great point of land to which, because of the breakers seen, he gave the name of Shoal Hope or Cape, changing this later to Cape Cod, from the numbers of that fish in those waters. The captain landed and found abundance of berries, yet unripe, and much sand, very deep; here he met a friendly young Indian with plates of copper in his ears. Sailing southward, the Concord barely escaped shipwreck upon the reefs in an opening to which was given the name of Tucker's Terror, from that person's expressed fear, and a neighboring promontory was called Point Care. The next day so many reefs were visible over which the surf was thundering that they remained at anchor until the 18th, when a boat, sent to take soundings, brought back a favorable report. Islands, found afterwards to be hills or hummocks, were noted, and gaily attired, but somewhat timid and thievish, natives came on board. Having safely passed through one of the many breaches, they coasted along, seeing the shore full of people, running, "as much admiring us." Another point of land now won the name of Shoal Hope, and turning southward they came to a disinhabited island, which they named Martha's Vineyard; this is now Noman's Land, the earlier name having been mysteriously transferred to a neighboring island. The Vineyard was a pleasant spot, overgrown with trees, vines, raspberries, eglantine, etc., and the cliffs were covered with flocks of noisy sea-birds; deer ran in the wood, and fish swam in the waters. On the 26th they doubled the Cape of a neighboring island, bestowing upon it the name of Dover Cliff, (now Gay Head), and rode all night in a fair sound. On May 27, in the early morning, they passed safely round a ledge of racks a mile in length above water, and dropped anchor in what Archer declares to be one of the stateliest sounds he had ever beheld, and which was called Gosnold's Hope, (now
Buzzards or Fish Hawks Bay.) To the north, east and west ran the mainland, and four leagues from the shore lay an island which Gosnold fixed upon as the site of the future settlement, and bestowed upon it the name of Elizabeth's Isle, a name which has not uncharacteristically appropriated to itself the whole group. North of Elizabeth's Isle lay a tiny, cedar-covered islet, which they called Hills Hope; and these two islands have reverted, with some fortunate modification, to their Indian names of Cuttyhunk and Penekese, and probably the Round Hill is what was known to the explorers as Haps Hill, in the hope of hap or luck to be derived from it.

Though Elizabeth's Isle was then disinhabited, the ruins of a wigwam and fishing-weir showed that Indians resorted thither. It was overgrown with wood–oak, beech, ash, cedar and sassafras, of all of which beauty there remains today, but the memory, in the name of Copicut, the shady, borne by a small point of land.

"Here eglantine embalmed the air, Hawthorne and hazel mingled there," and such "roots and herbs" as strawberries and tansy grew abundantly. So fertile was the soil that English pulse, sown there, sprouted half a foot high in a fortnight. The seed may have come from Jack's Beanstalk. Within the island, which was some four miles in circumference, they came upon a pond of fresh water, within which was a tiny islet, overgrown with cedar. This islet, admirably suited for a place of defense, was chosen to be the cradle of the infant colony, and on it they determined to build a fortified house. Gosnold made several trips about the bay, exploring it, disappearing once for two days from the eyes of his anxious people, who had some trouble with the Indians, and grew apprehensive; nor had they ever heard sweeter music than their chief's lewre whistle when he returned to them in safety.

On May 31st Gosnold paid a visit to the mainland–the exact spot is hard to determine,–where he was courteously welcomed by the Indians, who bestowed gifts of skins, tobacco, turtle, wampum, chains, etc. Archer thought this mainland the goodliest continent ever seen, "replenished with fair fields, and in them fragrant flowers; also meadows, and hedged in with stately groves; being furnished also with pleasant brooks, and beautified with two main rivers that (as we judge) may haply become good harbors, and conduct us to the hopes men so greedily do thirst after."

The island lakelet was supplied by springs "running exceedingly pleasantly," says Mr. Brereton, "through the rocky, woody ground," and on the northern edge of the island lay bleaching the huge skeletons of whales, portents of the future.

While the building was going on, the Indians often came and traded their wares for such articles as straw hats and glittering knives, which latter they much coveted, though they failed to appreciate the biting qualities of English mustard. One, having been bidden to strike fire, did so with an emerald stone such as glaziers use, which Archer opines to have been of the kind called by the Latins, smiris. The fort was, of course, of the rudest construction, but very available, built of rough stones, and rubbished, that is, the crannies were filled in with bushes and twigs, and its position made it thoroughly suited to defense. Had the colony remained, it might have had a story as full of wild adventure as many a little peel on the Scottish marches.

The explorers seem to have twice visited Naushon, the largest island of the group, where they sowed grain that grew with amazing rapidity, and where they startled the deer and heron in the stately forest, which this island alone of the Elizabeths has been privileged to retain.

Much sassafras, prized for supposed medicinal qualities, and cedar were collected for the return voyage, but the question of provisions was a difficult one; those who remained feared to lose their share of the profits of the venture, and after much discussion the enterprise was abandoned; the little fort left to fall into decay, the beans to grow at their own sweet will; and on the 18th of June the good little ship Concord, whose name had not proven to be wholly ominous of the result, doubled the rocky ledges of Elizabeths Island, bidding a last farewell to the blue waters of Gosnolds Hope; passed Dover Cliff, whose brilliantly-colored clays were gleaming in the sunshine, and set her course once more for the broad Atlantic. On July 23rd, she cast anchor in Exmouth harbor, having but one cake of bread and no drink but vinegar left on board.

In a letter to his father, Gosnold describes the climate of Elizabeths Isle and its neighborhood as colder than that of those parts of Europe on the same parallel, but warmer than in England, though the spring came a month later–still, as he prudently remarks, that may have been unusual. The prevailing westerly winds are noted, and the healthfulness of the climate inferred from the advanced age of many of the natives.

Not long after Gosnold's return, the great queen passed away, but the heroic mariner sought service under her less adventurous successor, and the year 1607 finds the discoverer of Elizabeths Isle among the settlers of Jamestown, once more under the patronage of Sir Walter Raleigh. On this expedition went our old acquaintance, Guilbert Archer, and Captain John Smith, of pleasant memory, who, recently freed from a Turkish prison by the aid of the fair Tragabizanda, was lured by Brereton's narrative of his voyage to join the new venture to Virginia, where he was to owe his life to another of his guardian angels, the Indian, Pocahontas.

Of the first council of the colony Captain Gosnold was a member, but his daring and active life was drawing to a close; on August 22nd, 1607, the hardy sailor died at Jamestown, and there, in a nameless grave, he rests.

The Modern Settlement at Cuttyhunk
By Elizabeth Watson

Night before last, at this time, I was in the little church at Cuttyhunk. It was an unusual occasion, for two ministers occupied the platform–the resident and a visitor. The latter had charge of the service, and before giving out his text he regretted that he had chosen the same one from which his brother had preached in the afternoon. Being unable to rise to the emergency and offer a new sermon on the spur of the moment, he carried out his original plan. I am in somewhat the same embarrassing position. For, although the subject for this evening has been divided, the lines of thought must sometimes necessarily cross, and I shall perhaps repeat what others have said. But as this is the paper that I have prepared for the occasion, it is to this that you will be obliged to listen. Cuttyhunk is an experience, entirely surrounded by water. From the time when we leave the Cygnet and climb into the little sailboat in Cuttyhunk harbor, among a collection of boxes and baskets of provisions, trunks, grips, fishing tackle and possibly a freezer of ice cream, and anxiously ask Captain Clifford if it is going to rain, to the moment when, on our return trip, we hurry to the wheel house of the tug and fearfully ask Captain Sherman if it is going to be rough, New Bedford becomes a fading memory, and we live, for a time, in another world–a contented little world of mutual helpfulness and hopefulness, as is evidenced by Captain Clifford's answer. For, though skies may be lowering, and an occasional dash of rain seem somewhat discouraging, he smiles cheerfully and says: "I guess it will clear. You might just as well think the best is going to happen, so long as you don't know."

Sustained by this buoyant philosophy, we enjoy the novel sensation of apparently being run straight on the rocks; but to our surprise we are not shipwrecked, and presently a rope is thrown to the beach where a wagon and a couple of horses are waiting, and we are towed along the shore to the landing. We then form a most unsociable, single file procession and wend our way across a narrow plank walk, two boards wide, which is built over the rosemary in the marsh, the sand and the stones. We do not get a very distinct idea of the scenery at this time, our whole attention being given to keeping in the straight and narrow way.

When we leave the plank walk we look for the street; but we are in a streetless town; and through the fields and back yards we make our way to the post office, where the event of the day is taking place. The people are gathered about the little window with a grating of wooden slats, which greatly resembles a peach crate, and as the postmaster reads the names on the newly arrived letters, the owners step forward like graduates about to receive diplomas. When this ceremony is over there are friendly chats and matters of business are settled, for this little back room is the Exchange of Cuttyhunk; then, happy or disappointed, the members of the group disperse to wait for tomorrow and another mail.

This is in summer, when the boat runs daily. But through the long winter months, only once a week the mails are brought, and then, if the weather is too inclement, the trip is postponed to the next fair day. Meanwhile, the islanders wait, and mend their nets, and traps and lobster pots. And so the winter days go by. But there is social dissipation way out here in the ocean, and we hear of progressive whist parties, while the word "pedro" is not unknown here.

Life is very simple at Cuttyhunk. There are no strikes or unions; each man works for himself, and thus beautifully combines and harmonizes capital and labor. Out of the hundred inhabitants a certain number are classed as voters, and presumably are sometimes called upon to vote for somebody or something; but the question of politics is by no means a vital one, and the "machine" has evidently not yet become a necessity. Their High school question is far in the future. The little white schoolhouse now boasts 20 pupils, but we hear of the time when there were only five–and one season education was dispensed to three scholars, one of whom was the teacher's little girl. The clash of creeds is not heard in the land. For the willy-nilly the people must be Methodists, and during the summer months gratefully receive from the conference a hopeful young student from one of the theological schools. As he is not a regularly ordained minister, he cannot perform the marriage ceremony, and therefore the wedding day is not that named by the bride-elect, but the one when the presiding elder takes in Cuttyhunk on his round of duty. As to funerals, there are none, so the natives say. The tradition is that they were obliged to kill a man to start the cemetery. Perhaps the health of the inhabitants is due to the fact that it is such a difficult and expensive matter to call a doctor. But the little cemetery is now a sacred spot because it is the resting place of those men who lost their lives while trying to save others; those men whom Cuttyhunk proudly calls her heroes.

It is always well to learn a business from the very beginning, in all its details, and this the summer minister has a fine opportunity to do. He opens the church, lights the lamps, and the early comers find him just inside the door ringing the bell. The building is an immaculate little structure with frescoed walls, a fresh red carpet, a nice cabinet organ and settees for about a hundred people. And the bright glow of the lamps impresses one with the idea that there are no foolish virgins in Cuttyhunk. In fact, one notices in those simple homes the most absolute neatness and cleanliness. What wonder that the one little back room which serves as the store should be stocked mainly with soap and sapolio and blueing? The other chief commodity is candy.

All provisions, save fish and vegetables, are brought from New Bedford, and or5ders must be sent the day before the articles are needed; in winter a week or two before. If a guest arrives unexpectedly on the boat, the housekeeper cannot telephone in haste for a long list of things to be sent up right off; but the neighbors cheerfully come to the rescue, and the visitor may spread Mrs. A's butter on Mrs. B's bread, and eat it well seasoned with Mrs. C's hospitality. A pretty instance of the mutual helpfulness of the people happened the other morning. We were at breakfast, when a little girl came to the door with, "Mother wants to know if you will lend her some sugar?" The bowl was quickly filled, and hardly before the door closed two little boys appeared with a big basket, saying: "Mother sent up the lobsters so you wouldn't have to come for them."

The amount of live stock on the island, except the sheep, is very limited. There are two horses, two mules and a donkey. There are so few cows that the milk is apportioned according to the number in a family, which reminds us the Pilgrim days, when one cow was allotted to 13 persons. There are a few dogs and cats and hens and chickens. But the sheep, which belong to the club, can be counted by hundreds, and far across the hills they can be seen feeding, quite like the pictures of the English downs. Oh! I forgot to mention that a monkey has lately been added to the attractions, and it yet may become the nucleus of a fine park system.

So much for the little settlement of about 30 houses. But there are other attractions for the visitor, who has seen upon the shore the stranded wrecks, and heard the stories of the wild nights when the life-savers are abroad.

Along the narrow strip of land, piled high with smooth, slippery, sea-worn stones, we walk to the life-saving station. A recent wreck is being driven farther and farther upon the beach; the scattered bones of earlier wrecks strew the shores; there is a great mass of twisted iron cable, like an immense cage; and over it all is the rosy light of sunrise.

For we have started early, in order to see the morning practice drill. When we reach the station, if we are particular friends of the keeper, and look into the dining room with longing eyes, we may be treated to coffee and gingerbread;–otherwise we stand around and wait, till the big doors are thrown open, and the men hurriedly drag the beach apparatus to the shore. This is a sort of car holding ropes, cables, shot lines and all the necessities to be used on land in sending aid to vessels in distress. A line is shot to a wreck pole resembling the mast of a ship, which is erected on land at some distance from the station. When it catches upon a platform near the top of the pole, a surfman quickly runs up a ladder, makes the rope fast to the mast and then draws over the cable on which is sent to him the breeches buoy, a contrivance resembling a large and commodious pair of canvas breeches, into which the rescued mariner quickly drops and is safely drawn to shore over the surging waves of grass and sand. This is all a very pretty play in the summer sunshine, but on a stormy winter night, when the wreck pole is the quivering mast of a sinking ship, the fight with death is a grim reality to those brave men. This performance over, we next inspect the life boats inside the station, and proceed to lessen our ignorance by asking the keeper a number of questions, wise and otherwise. As he is a most courteous and patient man, we learn that 10 months of the year there are six men on duty at the station; from December to May there are seven. From sunset till sunrise two men are on patrol along the two miles of dangerous coast, to keep a lookout for vessels in distress, or burn signals which may keep them from the rocks.

At the station a record is made four times a day of the state of the weather, the tide, the surf, the thermometer and the barometer. From the observatory on the highest hill a watch is kept all day for any vessels needing help or running into danger. The station was opened Feb. 14, 1890, and since that time the crew has gone to the relief of about 120 vessels.

We find in the houses many relics of those wrecks, and we may eat from a plate that came from the Fairfax, drink from a cup that was on the Indian, and place our butter on a dainty little butter dish from the Admiral Dewey; which would be a rather gruesome meal did we not think of the lives that were saved. If we remember the Dewey oranges which we ate here in New Bedford, after that famous wreck, we ask to see the spot where she was lost. And we listen with fast beating hearts, as the Sow and Pigs reef is pointed out to us, to the story of that fatal night, in 1893, when the Aquatic struck those shoals, and the heroes of Cuttyhunk perished. These men, we are told, were not from the life-saving station, but were volunteers, who manned the boat of the Humane society, and were swamped when putting off to the wreck.

Long before the life-saving station was established here, the Humane society had a station at Cuttyhunk, and still maintains four boats, which are kept at different points on the dangerous shore. For most dangerous those shores are. If we look at the map we see how the little dot marked Cuttyhunk is the last of the group of islands, and takes the first brunt of the ocean waves.

On the hills we often see motionless figures with spyglasses, watching for in-coming ships, for piloting is still a business with the men of Cuttyhunk. And this reminds me, that according to the newspaper statement–but quite unknown to me previously–I am to tell you the relation of Cuttyhunk to the New Bedford whale fisheries, or something of the sort. So in order to prove the reporter correct, I will simply say that the whale ships used to pick up their pilots off Cuttyhunk and Vineyard Haven, and that one of the men on the island told me that 11 ships were once taken to New Bedford in a single day by Cuttyhunk pilots. I do not know of any other relations, although I may be mistaken, as I have not very carefully looked up the genealogy of Cuttyhunk.

The familiarity with the spy-glass is by no means confined to the pilots, for on one occasion I expressed some surprise that a certain adventure should have been seen at such a long distance, when the quick reply came: "Oh! There isn't a house on the island but what has a spy-glass."

We can hardly believe that the island was ever wooded, for the only trees there are two rows of silver poplars that form a shady lane to the garden of the Cuttyhunk club, an organization which owns nearly all of the island. If we have the privilege of knowing a member we are invited to enter the gate and walk through the well-kept grounds to the broad piazza on the ocean side. Here we have a most magnificent view of Gay Head and Vineyard Sound, while through the fine, mounted spy-glass we can descry the fishermen's huts on Nomansland. The hospitality of the club is offered to us in full strength if we are gentlemen, and mildly tempered for us if we are ladies. The club was organized in 1865 as a Gentleman's Fishing club, and the precarious looking causeways which run out into the water at intervals all along the shore are the fishing stands where the members sit and pull in striped bass till they are exhausted. Pictures of their trophies adorn the club house walls. The membership is limited, at present, to 25 men, among whom we find several whose names are on the roll of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society.

At the west end, as it is called, is the lighthouse, and the keeper will take us in a boat to Gosnold's island. We read that Gosnold found turtles there, and we feel that the identity of his landing place must be established beyond a doubt when we see the huge creatures under water. Knowing that these reptiles live hundreds of years, we even think it possible that the oldest inhabitant may have been present at the landing. The rocks are covered with very small turtles, about an inch and a half or two inches long, suitable for children, who gather them as one would gather huckleberries.

Of the island and the monument, you have heard the story; only let me say to Mr. Ricketson that the march of progress in Cuttyhunk is toward his monument; for already the people are agitating the question of a bridge from the shore to the island, and I was requested to mention it to the committee. On our way to the West End we walk along the edge of the cliff, and look down on the broken wreck of the Aquatic which drifted ashore after many days. We watch the myriads of swallows that have their nests in the sandy cliffs; or step from our path to pick some sweet wild strawberries or gather a tempting mushroom. Or perhaps we wander through the middle of the island along the narrow path worn by the feet of the children of the lighthouse keeper, on their way to school. If we are courageous, and it is late in the afternoon, we pick our way over the stony beach on the other side and look off toward Horse Neck and Seaconnet and Newport, glorious in the sunset light. But all this is when there is sunshine at Cuttyhunk. There are other times, dark, lonely nights, when one cannot sleep for the pounding of the waves on the shore, and we look out of the window into the white world of fog, so weird and spectral. We realize that we are on that sea-swept island, cut off from home and friends. A strange sense of desolation comes over us, and we feel like the little boy, who, when certain domestic arrangements made it necessary for him to change his sleeping room, called to his mother, "You don't suppose God will forget that I have gone up in the third story, do you?"

But God does not forget this island in the ocean, and those of us who have enjoyed the hospitality of its kind-hearted, generous people, and recall the happy days there, pray for His richest blessings to fall upon the little community at sun-kissed, wave-washed, wind-swept, fog-wrapped Cuttyhunk.

The Gosnold Memorial Shaft and Something of the Geology of Cuttyhunk
By Walton Ricketson

The first suggestion regarding a fitting memorial to Bartholomew Gosnold and his companions, so far as I can learn, occurs in Ricketson's history of New Bedford, written half a century ago, and published in the spring of 1858.

In chapter 11, on Buzzards Bay and the Elizabeth Islands, after alluding to their discovery by the Northmen in the 10th century the historian quotes from the journals of Archer and Brereton those passages relating particularly to the island of Cuttyhunk, by Gosnold, named Elizabeth, in honor of the queen, afterward the name given to the chain of islands from Nonamesett to Cuttyhunk.

After alluding to their discovery, as mentioned above, the writer says:

"It is truly a consecrated spot, and should henceforth be devoted to the fostering of that noble and adventurous spirit, as well as the kind and friendly relations between mankind, manifested in the intercourse of those hardy adventurers with the natives they have met. In the name and to the memory of Bartholomew Gosnold, whose bones lie in an unknown grave in Virginia, where he died August 22, 1607, let it be consecrated. A small, round and castellated form of tower, built of stone in a rude but substantial manner, would be in good keeping with the historical associations of this spot, which might be called Gosnold tower or fort."

With a laudable desire to carry out the suggestion of our historian, the Cuttyhunk club, through the enthusiasm of one of its prominent members, undertook, with hearty interest, the erection of a memorial worthy of the important event it was to commemorate, but, after raising a fund for this purpose, they were unable to make satisfactory arrangements with the owners of the little islet, so were obliged, at last, reluctantly to abandon the undertaking.

While visiting the islet a few years ago with two congenial friends, well known in literary circles for their scholarly attainments and love of places having a human interest, there was much animated talk on the importance of at once making a vigorous attempt toward not only honoring the discoverers, but noticing with appropriate exercises, the first tercentenary in the English history of this country, antedating as it does both Jamestown in 1607 and Plymouth in 1620.

Two years ago the same gentleman alluded to above as prominent in the initial attempt toward a memorial, not having lost interest in the good work, gained the ready co-operation of two of his friends, and formed our "Gosnold Memorial committee." They at once matured their plans, drew up a circular explaining their object and needs, made a design for the memorial tower, and acquired the free use of the islet from the owners. This was in 1891.

Soon arrangements were made for celebrating the tercentenary of the landing of Gosnold on Cuttyhunk, and on June 4, 1902, which date corresponds with May 25th, old style, (the day upon which the voyagers landed,) a party of gentlemen visited the island, and with appropriate exercises laid the corner-stone of the memorial tower. The party comprised the following gentlemen: Francis Ellingwood Abbot, LL.D., of Cambridge, Mass.; Edwin D. Mead Esq., of Boston, editor of the New England Magazine; George Gregerson Wolkins Esq., president of the Old South Historical Society of Boston; Ellis Loring Howland; and the local committee: Hon. Charles S. Randall, George Fox Tucker Esq., and Walton Ricketson.

Mr. Randall kindly placed his yacht at the service of the company, and on arriving at the island they were met by a committee of the islanders, and at once proceeded over the hill and dale to the pond and islet at the west end. The pond is about two miles in circuit, and the islet of nearly an acre in area. I had already visited the islet, selected a proper stone, and carved on its flat surface the name of Gosnold and the dates, 1602-1902.

Having quoted freely from the pages of Ricketson's history, the following dedication was read, the corner-stone being laid at the proper time:

"We dedicate this historic islet to Bartholomew Gosnold and his companions, who landed here May 25, 1602, old style, and built a fort and storehouse, the first English habitation built on this continent. We propose to erect a tower to commemorate that important event, and now lay its cornerstone. We thus signalize the tercentenary of the first attempt at English settlement on this continent. In this act we take the lead in the long series of tercentennial celebrations which are to follow."

Informal addresses were made by Dr. Abbot, Mr. Mead and Mr. Wolkins, the exercises closing with a few informal remarks by others present.

The necessary funds to just cover the contract price having been raised, the Cuttyhunk club kindly offering from the adjacent shores and fields all of the stone and sand we might need, work on the tower was commenced early last spring. The work has progressed slowly, but otherwise satisfactorily, and from present appearances the memorial will be completed in a few weeks, and the dedication take place probably in August. All of the contributors will be notified as to this event, and, as the list is quite large, and the trip to the island attended with some difficulties, we shall be obliged to confine our invitations to those who have so willingly and generously assisted. A commodious steam yacht has been chartered to convey the patrons to the island, and lunch will be served on board.

It has been announced that I would have something to say regarding the geology of Cuttyhunk.

I will only give a brief outline of the most important phenomenon, the evidences of glacial influence shown by the boulders strewn broadcast in some localities, but in others laid in well defined moraines.

To the student of natural history the island offers a field of great interest geologically, from the fact that along its shores and hills are strewn the harvest of the great ice sheet of the glacial epoch. During that period there existed over New England a mass of ice extending from the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire to the seacoast, and varying in thickness from 100 to 6,000 feet in thickness, with a steady, irresistible flow southward, "abrading, plowing, crushing and tearing from the underlying slopes and summits fragments of rock. It took up the loose earth and stones, abraded the hard rocks, plowed into the soft, and broke and tore off large and small boulders from the fissured or jointed rocks. The ice mass was a coarse tool, but through the facility with which it broke and adapted itself to uneven surfaces, it was well fitted for all kinds of shoving, tearing and abrading work. Moreover, it was a tool urged on by enormous pressure." Along the southern edge of the ice-cap, from the Falmouth hills westward, along the shores of the Elizabeth Islands, can be traced the moraine left by the receding ice. Sand, gravel and boulders, some of the latter weighing hundreds of tons, are strewn along the shore.

On the cobble beach at the west end are thousands of smooth and polished stones of many sizes and colors–white, blue, red, pink, gray and brown. Gather a handful of gravel lower down on the beach, and you will find the same in miniature. The granite gneiss and quartz may have come from this vicinity, the pudding stone from Dorchester. The real Dorchester giant of Holmes' inimitable poem, was this glacial monster, riding rough-shod over the island. Fragments torn from the primitive rock by glaciers, borne hundreds of miles and dropped, can be traced with unerring certainty to their original locality, and I presume it is possible to find minerals on the shore of Cuttyhunk, the only counterparts of which must be sought for in the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.

In plowing its pathway southward to the sea, this powerful ice mill has strewn the land with fertile soil for the production of plant and animal life, placed various materials used by man, and after accomplishing its grand object retired. This was the long winter of the past, succeeded by the spring and summer of today, with its wealth of varied life.